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Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014

Artist Sergei Isupov Flirts with the Uncanny

Sculptor is the focus at Racine Art Museum

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“Collection Focus: Sergei Isupov” at Racine Art Musuem
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Human beings like to anthropomorphize. So we make memes attributing touchingly inane dialogue to the expressive faces of Shiba Inu puppies. Our anthropomorphizing impulse is also evident in the attempts of CGI and video games to recreate the effortless naturalism of human behavior. But these valiant efforts sometimes go awry. To describe such failures, the term “uncanny valley” was coined to name the sharp drop off where verisimilitude prompts repulsion…think Jar Jar Binks.

Sergei Isupov’s unmistakable technical mastery allows him to flirt with the uncanny by adding a tasteful pinch of the grotesque into his clay sculptures. Humans and animals merge bodies. Physical features are compressed and flattened. Appendages abound in uncommon multiples and locations. All this makes sense in light of Isupov’s express intent to explore the human condition. How better to evoke existential constriction than the flattening and elongating of bodily features? If you find yourself grimacing before Isupov’s unsettling faces, is it because you just saw your reflection?

Racine Art Museum’s “Collection Focus: Sergei Isupov” opens Sunday, Feb. 23, and will be on display until June 8.

 

“Art from the Ashes: Finding Light in the Shadow of the Shoah”

Golda Meir Library @ UW-Milwaukee

2311 E. Hartford Ave.

It seems paradoxical that beautiful art originates in the most horrific of circumstances. And yet mushrooms burst forth from excrement and humans surrounded by ugliness bring forth beauty. “To comprehend a nectar requires sorest need,” noted Emily Dickinson. “Art from the Ashes” presents the works of Bay-area artist Helene Fischman created while working in the remains of former concentration camps. The art, conceived as an homage to the victims of the Holocaust, will be presented alongside World War II artifacts held by UWM’s special collections. The works will be on display until May 30.

 

“Artists Now: Sandra de la Loza—Art as a Living Practice”

Arts Center Lecture Hall, Room 120

2400 E. Kenwood Blvd.

In his eleventh thesis on Feurbach, Karl Marx upbraided philosophers for overlooking the fact that they should not merely interpret the world, but seek to change it. Sandra de la Loza is an artist who strives, not merely to represent the world, but to change it. Her photographs, silkscreen prints and other creations draw attention to power relations in contemporary social, political and cultural landscapes. De la Loza will be giving a performative lecture at UWM at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

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